If your bird seems sick, take him or her to an avian vet immediately! Check your local phone book or Vet Lookup, AAV, Avian Vet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Should You Feed Your Cockatiel?

Now that we're on the topic of food...

We cockatiels like to eat all kinds of things. Personally, during my first years with the Tall One, I would only eat bird seed, millet spray, honey treats, and my cuttlebone, no matter how hard she tried to get me to eat fruits, vegetables, and other things that she considered healthy. She even tried to convert me to pellets a couple of times, because they are supposedly well-balanced, but when she realized she was facing a hunger strike, she gave me my bird seed. You show me the human that's eating a well-balanced pellet diet, and I'll eat it, too, but in the meantime, I want some real food!

Once Miss Prissy moved in, though, I realized that I had been a little narrow-minded about food. She actually tried all the stuff that the Tall One gave us, not only the bread and pizza crust, but also the fruits and veggies. Of course, I didn't want her to have anything I couldn't get, so I tried it, too, and I have to admit that some of the stuff is pretty good. I really missed out before. The other day, she brought something called a hamburger and gave us a little piece. I'd never had one before, and it was yummy! Yesterday, she gave me something called a tortellini. It was a little softer than the things I usually like to eat, but by now I had learned to try new things anyway. It was soooo good, I ate the whole thing!

So, if you're a cockatiel, I'd encourage you to try and eat what your human gives you, unless it really seems to be bad to eat. If you're a human, you need to make sure that everything you feed your tiel is actually good for him or her. Things like chocolate and avocado are actually toxic for birds, and feeding your feathered friends only seeds is not good for them, either. Following are some links on cockatiel nutrition.

The National Cockatiel Society: Feeding Cockatiels. By Dr. Vanessa Rolfe, DVM, 1997. This is a concise article about how to make sure that your cockatiel gets adequate nutrition.

Health and Diet. This page is part of the Australian National Cockatiel Society's web site, and it contains articles on Caged Birds and Diet, Vitamin A Deficiency, and Weeds for Birds.

Cockatiel Cottage: Diet. My friend Eleanor has a very informative page about cockatiel diet on her Cockatiel Cottage site.

20 Things You Must Know About Nutrition. This very informative list refers not only to cockatiels, but all species of pet birds.

Understanding Pet Bird Nutrition. By Gary D. Butcher and Richard D. Miles, University of Florida, IFAS Extension. This is a well-researched article from a reputable source. It describes the six essential nutrients: water, protein, carbohydrates and fiber, lipids, minerals, and vitamins in a relatively easy-to-understand, but scientific format. It also includes a Question-and-Answer section on bird nutrition.

Avian Nutrition, Winged Wisdom Magazine. By P. J. Schimel, 1997. This is an easy-to read general article about pet bird nutrition. It is split up into food categories, for example water, vegetables, sprouts, fruits, nuts, tablefood, birdy bread, and food toys. The author also points out that different species have different nutritional needs.

Some Random Ideas on how to Get Your Cockatiel to Eat Veggies. This is a fun, short, easy-to try list of ideas. Some of these ideas may not work for you and your tiel, but some of them may, and they sound like a lot of fun. Try them out!

To Peel or Not to Peel: Parrots & Natural Living Foods. By Monica Gonzalez, 2003. Another list of creative ideas on how to get your bird to eat healthy food. Actually, I might print it out and leave it on the Tall One's desk...

Avian Nutrition. By Cynthia L. Kiesewetter, NACS. Despite its title, this article focuses on cockatiels in particular. Each nutrient is described in detail. There is even a chart that shows how much fat each type of seed contains.

Cockatiel Nutrition Guide. This guide is organized by food components such as carbohydrates, proteins, etc. It explains what role they play in cockatiel nutrition and where they can be found. This site is especially useful if you have some background knowledge in nutrition.

What Should I Feed My Cockatiel? By Mary Beth Voelker, Online Pet Consultant, National Cockatiel Society. If you decide to switch your cockatiel's diet to an all-pellet diet, this article gives good advice and a step-by-step guide.

Converting the Seed Junky to Pellets. By Dr. Vanessa Rolfe, DVM, National Cockatiel Society, 1997. This is another article on the same topic.

What to Feed? A Solution. By Peter Feldman. This article gives a different perspective on pellets, considering them a part of a healthy diet rather than the main or exclusive source of nutrition for birds.

As you can see from these articles, there are different issues and opinions involved with providing good nutrition for us birds. While humans know what foods are unhealthy for us and what nutrients we undoubtedly need, there does not seem a consensus on exactly what a good diet should look like. My advice for my human readers is to offer your cockatiel a diet that contains different types of nutritious foods, and to continue doing your research on cockatiel nutrition and new developments in the field. If I hear of new information, I will certainly keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you have any other informative links on the topic, please post them below under "Comments".


T-man said...

Happy Valentine's Day, J.L and Miss Prissy (and your Tall One and Cool One!)

T-man and CC-man

Mickey said...

Hey J.L. happy Valentine's day to you, Miss Prissy, The Tall One and Cool One.
Mama said to tell you thanks for all the article on tiel care. She's learning a lot and finding that she's doing a lot right already. It really makes her happy when she finds that she's taking good care of me. Silly Mama, I could have told her that already because since she's had me my color has improved 1000%.

J. L. LeMone said...

Hi T-Man and Mickey!

Happy Valentine's Day to you, too! I hope you had a good one! Miss Prissy and I had a fancy bird seed and millet spray dinner and a nice walk around the cage. We chirped at the Tall One to let her know how much we liked the millet spray, and to bring us more!

I'm glad your mom enjoyed the articles, Mickey! How long have you had your human? You're right, the right kind of care makes our colors come out so much brighter!

J. L. LeMone